The new album Rust from singer songwriter Forrest Hill, is rooted in the human experience of the spirit. Coming at a time when there is a lot distrust in our society and uncertainty about our future, Rust casts an unflinching eye at the power of love to change hearts and bring wholeness to our lives.
Recorded at Tiny Telephone studios in San Francisco, Rust is Forrest’s first solo album and marks his return to the recording studio after 25 years. Inspired by his wife Erika, it represents a new musical direction, from the jazz/funk style of his past to a softer, more reflective sound. Like much of Forrest’s music, the desire for connectedness and wholeness is a constant theme that weaves its way throughout the album.
Forrest began writing music in 1977 while hitchhiking across the country through post-Vietnam America, looking to find the inherit goodness in society. He encountered plenty of suffering along the way, due to poverty and racism, as well as beautiful expressions of the compassionate heart in everyday people trying to make a positive difference in the world. These experiences continue to provide Forrest with lyrical inspiration and have shaped his career choices throughout his life.
In 1980, Forrest landed in Boston where he co-founded the funk rock band Judy’s Tiny Head (JTH). They released two successful EPs that included the 1985 single My Car, a rap diatribe on material excess and the human spirit. Produced by William Garrett (now chief engineer at Spotify), My Car enjoyed copious amounts of air play in the Boston area and became a top 20 hit on college radio across the country.
My Car helped Forrest and JTH build a loyal following in New England and performed with such bands as the Violent Femmes, Run DMC and Deborah Harry. The band eventually signed a management contract with the legendary music executive Gene Griffin and recorded with famed music producer Teddy Riley.
Economy conditions at the start of the 90’s sent Forrest back to college to finish his undergraduate degree. He eventually earned a PhD from MIT in marine biology, while continuing to perform in local coffee houses on Cape Cod. A new writing style was beginning to emerge, rooted in his political passions and ever-widening search for deeper meaning. Seeking change, he moved to California in 2000, worked as an ecologist, ran for political office as a Green Party candidate, taught college classes at San Quentin prison, became a Socially Responsible Investment advisor and trained as a meditation teacher.
While JTH never made it national, that was never the plan. For Forrest, it was always about the transformative power of music. As he says, “we are never too old to create what is truly in our hearts or open to a song that inspires us.” With Rust, he reconnects to that legacy in a way that is informed by the time and wisdom of 30 intense years of living, human experience with everyone from prisoners and activists to professors and scholars, seeking the common thread of humanity hidden in everyone.
Recording Rust has brought Forrest full circle back to the center of his creative passion. His story, like so many others, is about reclaiming our true nature. We are all born creative, but over time, because of socialization, many of us stifle these impulses. With this album, Forrest is asking us to let go of self-doubt and reclaim our creative spirits.
“Music can move the soul and bring us into the present moment in ways that are not always accessible to us in our busy lives,” Forrest relates. “So much of our difficulties have to do with wanting to be somewhere else, or wishing we had something else in our lives to makes us happy. When we step into the now, we become intimate with the mystery of life and our connection to all things. Music has the power to pull us in that direction. It helps us see our true nature and open us up to what is good about life.”
Forrest has recently recorded several music videos to support the album Rust, shot on location in the Netherlands. He is currently preparing song arrangements for his next album, which is scheduled to be recorded in the fall of 2017. Forrest is also rehearsing a new band and plans to tour in the summer of 2018.